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Kharaputta Jātaka (No.386)

Once Senaka, king of Bārāṇasī, saved a Nāga-king from being beaten to death by village lads, and the Nāga in gratitude gave the king many gifts, including a Nāga maiden to minister to him, and a charm by which he might trace her if ever she went out of his sight. One day the king went with her to the park, and there Senaka found her making love to a water-snake and struck her with a bamboo. She went to the Nāga-world and complained that she had been ill-treated. The Nāga-king sent four attendants to kill Senaka, but they, overhearing the king relating the story to his queen, reported the matter to the Nāga-king.

The latter confessed his error to Senaka, and in order to make amends taught him a charm that gave him the knowledge of all sounds. Senaka was told that if he taught anyone else the charm he would perish in flames. Senaka’s queen discovered his possession of the charm, and did not cease to beg him to teach it to her, even though she knew that by so doing he would incur death. Unable to resist her, Senaka went with his queen to the park to teach her the charm and enter the flames.

Sakka’s throne was heated, and transforming himself and his wife into goats they waited for the king, and on the approach of his chariot began to make love. The steeds in the chariot were shocked and upbraided the goats for their stupidity, but the goats replied that the steeds were stupid to let themselves be fastened to a chariot which carried so stupid a king as Senaka. The king, hearing their conversation, alighted from the chariot and, sending the queen on, asked of Sakka how he could evade his promise. Sakka suggested that the queen be told that she would receive one hundred lashes as part of her initiation. The queen agreed to this, but, when the flogging started, wished to change her mind, but the king, remembering her selfishness, caused the flogging to be carried out.

The story was related concerning a monk who was tempted by his former wife. Senaka was identified with the monk; Sāriputta was the chief steed and Sakka the Bodhisatta (J.iii.275 ff).

One of the verses in the Jātaka occurs also in the Mahāsutasoma Jātaka. J.v.498.

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